The clinic does not generally prepare and file tax returns. Clients should be referred to the various VITA sites or a local IRS office to have their returns prepared. VITA sites are places staffed by volunteers who are trained using IRS materials and IRS approved software. Most sites will prepare and e-file the current year’s return. In some cases, the site will do past returns. The clients should always contact the VITA site and confirm the hours that they are open.
The IRS maintains walk-in centers where an IRS employee will file current and past due returns. However, during the filing season (January – April) there is a high demand and limited personnel resulting in long waits.
In limited circumstances you are permitted to assist the client in preparing a routine return or amended return if that return is in connection with a tax controversy on which the clinic is working. For example, it is permissible to prepare a missing return for a year that must be filed before an offer in compromise is submitted or an amended return to claim an EITC that will resolve a controversy.
In filing past due returns, the Practitioner Priority Hotline should be contacted to determine the place where the return is to be filed. The sites for filing returns changes each year. While Publication 17 lists the places where current returns are filed, that site may not be correct for a past due return. The Practitioner Priority Hotline is always a good source to verify addresses before sending out information to the IRS.